Article Title:Candlelight Messages: Never Give Up, Never Forget
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Published on:18th May 2008 - 04:36 pm
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Story ID:5962
Text:Messages from the Governor General, Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition, conveyed to the 25th AIDS Candlelight Memorial services thoughout the country this evening. From the Governor General and Patron of the NZ AIDS Foundation, Anand Satyanand:   Greetings, Kia Ora, Kia Orana, Fakalofa Lahi Atu, Taloha Ni. It is with regret that I am unable to attend the 25th International AIDS Candlelight Memorial due to a prior commitment. Twenty-five years ago, when the first Candlelight Memorial was held, AIDS was a frightening new disease that had only been officially reported two years earlier. Since that time, millions worldwide have died and it is estimated that some 33 million people continue to live with the disease today. Despite the recent advent of new treatments that have dramatically improved the quality of life of those living with HIV, the United Nations estimates that in 2007 AIDS still claimed the lives of about 2 million people, including more than 300,000 children.  Many were in the developing world where access to these new treatments is limited or non-existent. But as the disease has spread, so has community resolve to fight its spread.  From small beginnings, the Candlelight Memorial is now marked more than 100 nations. The Candlelight Memorial is an opportunity to stop and remember not only the lives of those the AIDS epidemic has claimed, but also those it has left in its wake.  It is an opportunity to educate everyone about AIDS and to reaffirm our commitment to fighting the stigma and discrimination that many living with AIDS continue to endure.  As the theme of this year’s Memorial states, we should never give up and we should never forget. As Governor-General of New Zealand and Patron of the New Zealand AIDS Foundation, I send my best regards to everyone attending the 25th AIDS Candlelight Memorial. No reira, tena koutou, tena koutou, kia ora, kia kaha, tena koutou katoa. From the Prime Minister, Helen Clark: This weekend as we mark the 25th anniversary of the AIDS Candlelight Memorial, we as Kiwis around the country remember those who have died from AIDS. This Candlelight Memorial event is one of the most significant international events that is focussed on awareness and advocacy of HIV/AIDS issues. That is why the New Zealand Aids Foundation’s work in education and advocacy is so important – every day it is helping those who live with the disease. HIV/AIDS is still a significant public health issue that is affecting many communities in our own Pacific region. My message in previous years has been to remind ourselves not to become complacent.  It is still important that the next generation of New Zealanders is informed and able to continue working towards meeting the challenges this disease may bring in the future. The 25th AIDS Candlelight Memorial is a sombre, but important event. It allows us to reflect on our own experiences, the lessons that can be learned, and how we as New Zealanders can contribute to this cause.  I thank the New Zealand AIDS Foundation, the community-based groups, and the people living with HIV/AIDS and their families and friends, who play a pivotal role in promoting measures to combat HIV/AIDS. From the Leader of the Opposition, John Key: The opportunity to pass on a few words this evening is a very special one. Over 2000 kiwis live with HIV today and it is a disease that despite that affects people of all ages, ethnicities, genders, sexual orientations and socio-economic status. With some 33 million people estimated to be infected worldwide, the challenge of dealing with HIV is truly monumental. In recent years, much has been achieved in preventing, diagnosing and treating HIV Aids, but we must not let success become an excuse for complacency. With 2008 marking the 25th anniversary of the Candlelight Memorial it is an apt occasion to reflect upon an remember those who have been affected by HIV and AIDS over the last quarter century. Events such as the AIDS Foundation Candlelight Memorial [sic] are hugely important as they give us all a chance to remember those we have lost to Aids while also highlighting the hard work that still lies ahead to fight the disease. I understand the theme for this year's event is 'Never Give Up, Never Forget' and I really could not think of a more appropriate sentiment for the day. On Behalf of the National Party and my colleagues in Parliament, I would like to salute the New Zealand AIDS Foundation and the amazing work it does. Your efforts along with the many thousands of New Zealanders who support the foundation are truly inspiring. Finally I would like to acknowledge those of you who have HIV Aids. Your strength, your courage and your dignity is an example to us all. My warmest thoughts and wishes are with you this evening. - 18th May 2008    
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